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You Can Call Me 'Your Honor'

Yes, I, Burt Ross, a Malibu resident for only nine months, was asked to judge the pie contest last Saturday, and I took my responsibility most seriously.

I rarely write two columns on the same subject let alone in two consecutive weeks, but what we have here is some breaking news, as if that hackneyed expression isn’t used enough.        

No sooner had word gotten out I was writing last week’s column on the Methodist Pie Festival than I was offered a judgeship. There is no denying the power of the press. My whole life I have wanted to wear the long black robes. Being a mayor is one thing, but a judge—now we’re talking.      

Yes, I, Burt Ross, a Malibu resident for only nine months, was asked to judge the pie contest last Saturday, and I took my responsibility most seriously. Coming from New Jersey, I immediately made it clear I could be bought.  Strangely, there were no takers. Apparently the people of Malibu believe their pies can stand on their own merits and don’t need a little insider influence.     

I didn’t even have to pay for the judgeship. Pastor Sandy Liddell offered it to me without even suggesting that such an appointment warranted some greasing of the holy palm. When I was mayor I could have sold a judgeship for anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, and that was back in the early 1970’s. (No I didn’t sell a judgeship, and had I, the statute of limitations expired over a generation ago.) 

Not only did the Pastor not ask for anything for bestowing this great honor upon me, but she actually thanked me for accepting, “It is a joy to honor and thank our judges for a job well done. What a difference your service to the community makes.”     

Can you believe it? I was actually thanked for eating pies! Life simply doesn’t get any better than this. For those of you who doubt the existence of a Supreme Being, let me assure you this is living proof that one exists, and all is good upon the Planet Earth.     

Admittedly, the job of judging comes with great responsibility and stress. I now know the burden a judge carries when he must determine the guilt or innocence in a capital case, or when a judge in a heavyweight championship fight must decide who will be declared champion of the world.                                 

The pressure was overwhelming when I filled out my scorecard and understood my palate had helped determine John Loy with his entry “Crack Pie” was best Meringue/Cream Pie baker of 2012. I assume it was called “Crack Pie” because once you have eaten it you become addicted to it.     

We have come a long way when a Jew can be selected to judge a Methodist  pie baking contest. The ecumenical spirit truly abounds here in Malibu. And by the way, until further notice, you can call me “Your Honor.” Thanks.

nancy e October 16, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I love reading your column Always well written and enjoyable, your honor!
Max October 16, 2012 at 08:39 PM
As a concerned member of the Malibu Community, I propose that a post pie-judging inquiry is in order. A key issue is that Judge Ross (we’ll refer to him loosely as such, since term limits were not imposed) may have been biased during his judicial process. Was his evaluation completely unbiased? In experimental trials, one typically employees a “double-blind” testing procedure to minimize potential biases. That is, the experimentalist should have zero a priori information as to the source of the object under test, and, vice versa. Did the Honorable Judge Ross have prior knowledge as to the baker of the pie in question? Did the baker, on the other hand, have advance knowledge of the digestee? In the analysis of a given experiment, many scientists will conclude that, if the expected and measured results differ by a small multiplicative factor, then, theory and experiment are said to be in acceptable agreement; e.g, if theory predicts that there are 13 trillion stars in the universe and, in reality, there are 26 trillion, the difference (in this case, a factor of 2) is not significant in ascribing one’s confidence in the understanding of the phenomenon. If the multiplicative factor is 3.14 instead of 2, many physicists will conclude the same. In the final analysis, one may have confidence in the conclusion advanced by the Honorable Judge Ross, so long as his measurements are within a factor of PIE of the expected values. And, that is at the crust of the issue.
Burt Ross October 16, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Max, you sure went a mighty long way to get to the double punch line of "factor of PiE and "crust of the issue." Just remember please, I am the one who is supposed to be delivering the humor. Since you address me as Judge Ross, all is forgiven.
Max October 16, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Dear JR, Please hereby consider my irrational factor of Cajun dough extracted in deference to your recognized superior ulnar nerve and, concomitantly, my inappropriate gesture respectively forgiven. Your dedicated Plebeian subject.
Mikke Pierson October 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Great column Burt! I love the Pie Festival and certainly it sounds like you fully got the spirit of the event!
Max October 17, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Dear JR (aka Judge Ross), Here is a hint of who Max may be in reality... think of a couple of vacationers in your entry hall... and, consider that my spiritual leader is none other than a canine professor of astrophysics... Regards, Your PIE in the sky secret admirer.

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